It's one thing to hang up posters of famous icons on your kid's bedroom walls, but Ashley Larson and her three-year-old daughter Scout have taken the idea of role models to the next level. Larson uses Instagram to share Scout's "mini me" photo re-creations of strong, influential women (and some men!).
Larson decided to start taking the photos when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer - she hoped it would take her mind off worrying and demonstrate to her daughter that women are strong. What began as family project has caught on, and the duo's @hello.scout Instagram account now has more than 29,000 followers. Larson's mother is now cancer-free (!), but she and Scout don't plan on stopping any time soon - Larson still has a long list of icons in mind to share with Scout and her followers.
Larons opened up to Redbook about the project, how she chooses her subjects, and what it's like to make her daughter an Instagram personality.
What's Scout like, and how did you know she'd be interested in this project?
Scout has a lot of personality in a very tiny body. She's beyond her years as far as her ability to understand, take direction, and things of that nature. She can look at a picture and copy it. It's amazing. I don't have that kind of self-awareness. I'm so amazed that a three-year-old does. She has two brothers, so as parents, we're trying to make sure she gets that women are able to do anything a man can do and that she is equal to her brothers. As a person, she's hilarious, loving, and compassionate, like a tiny little mommy. She's always been in front of a camera because I do photography and my boys wouldn't let me photograph them. Scout loves it, though.
When did you start dressing her up?
We did one David Bowie picture when he had passed before my mother was diagnosed. She was two at the time, but that's what sparked the idea and as soon as my mom got sick, I was trying to find something to keep our minds off of what was going on. Watching my mom lose her hair worried the kids, so I thought, "What better way to teach them that women are strong and able than to emulate it?" Even if it didn't directly help Scout, I think helped me so I was able to help her. Now, I plan to make her her own little book with the pictures, and make one for my mom to show it was inspired by her.
How do you decide which celebrities to dress her up as?
It started as just strong, fierce women at the beginning who succeed in the face of adversity. Women who don't take no for an answer. I want to portray Scout like them, especially because that's how her personality is. We're starting to include men because what even is feminism if men aren't included? It's about equality. Men or women, it's all about how they are as a person. But everyone we shoot is someone I truly love and respect. I go through and make sure each person is someone whom I'd be proud if Scout acted like them in real life. If I wouldn't be proud that my daughter would act like them, then I wouldn't suggest that person. But we don't shoot anyone she doesn't want to do. I'll have outfits set out, I'll show her a picture of the person and tell her about them, and let her choose.
How much does she pick up from the women she's posing as?
She's three, so I explain who they are to her before we take the photos but the can only grasp so much. We're shooting the people now so I can get them in a book and when her mind can wrap itself around who they are, she'll have it. I hope when she's my age, women aren't seen as delicate and dainty, and that they're not still fighting to be seen as anything other than equal.
Where do you source the costumes, hair and makeup?
The makeup I do on photoshop. I can't get winged eyeliner to look that good on her! I've tried before and it does not happen. She can't hold still for that long. But I do the hair. Some clothes get sent for photos for modeling she does on the side and I end up using those for photos. We already have some things hanging in the closet, and we'll hit up Target sometimes with outfits in mind and try to make it work.
Which dress up session is your favorite so far?
Mine is Mindy Kaling because I love her so much. Scout thinks Mindy is cool because she knows I love her so she says she loves her, too. Mindy liked two of the photos I posted and after that Scout was convinced they were friends.
What about for Scout?
As far as the outfits go, she loved Frieda.
How do you decide what to caption the photos?
I really do a lot of research. Everything that I put out there is what I'm trying to represent through my child. It's always something uplifting, or something matter of fact that needs to be heard. It's never going to be something that doesn't mean something for me or something I want someone else to take away from the photo. Scout's reach has younger kids, so I want to make sure it's something they can understand and take away from it.
What did your mom think of the project?
She thinks it's awesome. I always get her opinion and take into account when she says there's a person she loves.
What's surprised you most about the project's popularity popular?
We had 17,000 followers two weeks ago, and we've gotten 11,000 in the past week. The most surprising thing was when Buzzfeed wrote about it and it was everywhere overnight. When I was shooting it, I wasn't shooting for anyone other than me and my family. It was fun that other people could read about it and take something from it.
Which photo has gotten the biggest reaction?
Do you think at all about her face being so public on social media at a young age?
She has no idea she's on social media. Someone who knew her name stopped us the other day and she didn't understand it was someone she didn't actually know. I prefer she doesn't think anything of it. My biggest thing is that anything on social is there forever whether you delete it or not. If you're putting something out there that you believe in, are proud of, and is positive, it's OK. Any negativity on the page I get rid of immediately because there's no need for it. What we're doing is something she can be proud of, she won't be embarrassed about. She has a say in this, and she has fun with it, so I feel like it'll be fine. She's a totally normal kid and she's doing everything any normal kid would do. She doesn't think her life is different than any other kid, and being in front of the camera is part of her normal. She's growing into a good little person and we're really proud of her.
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